Mark Hateley - Exclusive Interview with OLBG

Updated: 220 Football

Former England, Rangers and AC Milan star Mark Hateley shares his views on the latest England squad, the World Cup, and everything happening at Ibrox. Gareth Southgate named his final England squad before he has to choose his team to board the plane to Qatar for the winter World Cup, while they are winless in three - shipping just 11 goals in that time.

Mark Hateley - Exclusive Interview with OLBG
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Editor-In-Chief with 20 years experience covering the betting angles to breaking news stories. Daily slots player, Portsmouth fan and League Snooker Player

With a playing career beginning at Coventry then through Portsmouth, Milan, through Scotland with Ranges and an illustrious England Career, Mark Hateley answers some pressing questions from OLBG.

Do you think that it's now too much of an ask for Rangers to get anything out of the group stages?

I think what it's all about now is enjoying the games. It's really tough to enjoy this sort of level when you're under the pressure that you are to win every game when you're a Rangers player. League form obviously came off the back of the Celtic game, 4-0 then another 4-0 against Napoli in Naples, and then losing another three without any reply. I'm gonna say this weekend coming up against Dundee United is a game massively under pressure. Confidence has to be built somewhere and the only way you can get confidence back into the side is by putting in good results, keeping clean sheets and as I say winning games and it looks a long way off that right at the minute.

mark hateley Image: Mark Scates / SNS Group 

Do you see van Bronkhorst as being under pressure in the job?

Every manager is under pressure when they come to Rangers. If the late great Walter Smith can get the sack anybody can get the sack at any given time, that is the pressure. The pressure is on players, management and all staff alike to perform to the highest levels and football is always measured in results, and results have not been good. The old adage I think Rangers are one defeat away from catastrophe. Three games without goals, so the pressure is mounting. As I say when you're playing for big clubs, managing big clubs the rewards are massive, but the downside to is also massive as well. 

If Rangers were to turn things around in Europe? What do you think they're going to have to do? What do you see being the key fix?

I'm gonna say obviously keeping clean sheets, two seasons back they made an absolute season. When the guys won domestically by 20 plus points, having a good Europa League run, clean sheets. I think Rangers have had a problem since Helander has been injured, the sale of Balogun, two international centre halfs. And then Sands, who is a natural midfield player, came into play alongside Connor Goldson. I think that's probably where the problem lies, I think Connor Goldson has looked a little bit lost at times this season. I think obviously playing and trying to organise Sands, especially when you're playing at Champions League level you want an out and out centre half  playing alongside you. If he was to ask any goalkeeper, you want your best to centre halfs in front of you at champions league level. And that makes a big difference. Whether James Sands got a touch on the ball yesterday for one of the penalties and his red card, that's open to debate. It must play heavily on the minds of a goalkeeper and an out of out central defender when you're not playing alongside a defender, which James Sands is not, that could be one of the problems. We've seen the midfield trio mixed around, Ryan Jack was in there last night with Steven Davis, I think Steven Davis is key for European games with his experience and he fills in the spaces so I was glad to see him back. It's been chopping and changing, there's been no real settled team, I'm gonna say apart from the back four, the middle three and the top three has been chopping and changing for most of the season so that tells me that the confidence and reliability of his players is under question at the moment that's why it's been changed so many times.

Do you see the Champions League results affecting Rangers' league form?

It can roll over, that's the nature of the beast, it's when you're always winning and feel like you're always going to score goals and win games, and vice versa. When you're conceding lots of goals, that then gives you the worry, you're overcompensating on what you're trying to do and you're not relaxing. And when you're not relaxing you're not enjoying the game. You play your best football when you're most comfortable and are super relaxed, and that's what Rangers do not have at the moment.

If Rangers slip up against Dundee and Celtic win against St Mirren, do you see the league title being out of reach?

Very much so, Celtic have a really strong squad this season. Ange Postecoglou last season did remarkably well. It was an exceptional turnaround of players and performance in his team. And the performances have continued with a stronger squad this season. Rangers are chasing the league already so early into the season. I'm gonna say, will the International World Cup break come at the right time? It might come at the right time for Rangers, maybe not the right time for Celtic, because they'll just want to keep pouring on the pressure. Rangers cannot afford to drop any points.

Do you think the international break has come early? Rangers need to build a winning momentum against Dundee

You can look at it both ways. Hopefully it can help the players who go away and come back can bring their international form back to domestic leagues. All they've got to worry about is Saturday's game. Get a win and come away with a good performance, hopefully trying to keep a clean sheet. McGregor has been sitting on the bench most of the season, hopefully he can come in with his experience and help, he can win games by himself sometimes. When you're an Old Firm player, all you have to think about is the next game that comes your way.

Do you feel that Rangers are good enough to play in the Champions League?

Based on recruitment through the summer I would say probably not, I thought two really good players left the club, they haven't been replaced Bassey and Aribo. I think that you know those two types of players were key and instrumental over the European run last season, so you can look at the recruitment side of it. If you want to be competitive in the Champions League you have to hang on to your best players and add to the best players but unfortunately it's not like that the club have had to sell players to survive through the summer and then reinvest that money into other players. Vilmaz was sitting on the bench, Colak was on the bench yesterday as well. There's a lot of big money players sitting on the bench who have not started so you would have to look at that side of it.

Which right-backs do England bring and use? Alexander-Arnold has looked a liability at times, is that a dip in form?

It's just a small dip in form and he's feeling pressure. The pressure that comes on young players, he can cope with that, he is good enough. Liverpool have been coming under pressure for performances and it gets to you sometimes. You're looking at Maguire, Tomori, John Stones, Trippier. Kyle Walker has been the constant for the last 10 years. Reece James, Tyrone Mings, does he get into the squad? The big question is Harry Maguire, has to be, because he has been the guy Gareth has always gone to and who's going to play with him. We've seen on the successful runs, it's been Stones that's played with him which seemed to be a good partnership. Big questions will be asked of Gareth. There's a multitude of players there. Gareth is the type of manager that will have loyalty to the players that have been with him for a while, and who he can trust. He's gonna take Maguire and could even play him in these next two games. 

Would you take Maguire?

Maguire has to be playing. That's what all England managers have been like over the years. I missed out on Italia 90', because of a long injury. I was back in training but I was not playing games. Bobby Robson called me and said 'as an England manager, I need to see my players having games under their belt' and I still think it should be that way. Southgate will have that same problem. He'll need to take players that are playing because they're playing with confidence. You don't know what sort of effect Harry Maguire is going to have on the team.

Calvert-Lewin should be ruled out WC now - he’s done nothing for England

Calvert-Lewin has not played enough football to get in. The other three who have been playing all come into the category of being in form, scoring goals, and playing well. Cut the likes of Calvert Lewin. Has he done enough when he's been in squads before? It's a straightforward choice of strikers for Southgate.

Take Toney and Abraham to Qatar - their goals will boost flagging England confidence

If you're basing your selection on merit, then Toney falls well within that. I think Toney's time has come.

Tammy Abraham has done very well, Ivan Toney has excelled yet again, he's scoring goals. You need to take goalscorers with you, they bring confidence to score goals. Toney has continued to grow as a player, season on season, he's playing with sublime confidence right now. The goals he's been scoring, set pieces as well, is another bonus for England. Confidence like that overflows into the team and you've got an abundance of goals between the three of them (with Kane). It's a tough one now for Southgate, to find that settled front three or two for the game on the 21st November against Iran. 

These two games are massive for Southgate - he has to restore form AND find his best XI

The problem is with Harry Maguire not playing, it's key coming into international games. You can't judge Harry on his limited game time, he's been the go to guy, but he won't be confident and in form.

It's about that partnership in key areas, your strike partners, your midfield partnership and your defensive partnership. Pickford will and has been the go to guy in goal. It's a big two games for Southgate now. 

Performances that England have had over the last four games have been pretty poor by their standards, coming from semifinals and European finals, down to defeat against Hungary, draws against Germany and Italy, and then the 4-0l battering from Hungary at Wembley. We've got to take something from the Italy game, and then the last game against Germany, which will be two really difficult games, it will be a good test for Southgate. Whatever 11 he decides to put out, we need to settle.

That's where we are with England at the moment but I think we have to find a starting 11 that's going to be starting against Iran on the 21st of November.

Southgate has to decide if he can take Bellingham and Saka forward for England once the World Cup is over

Southgate has done remarkably well in the Euros and World Cup previously. Southgate is always under pressure. Southgate is an honest man, after this World Cup, will look at the players like Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham and think 'Can I take them forward?'. Southgate will be honest with the FA to come out with the correct decision, focusing on this World Cup is the be all and end all, don't worry what comes after it. It's been a long time since we've won a World Cup, let's put it that way.

Can England win the World Cup?

Yes we have a chance of getting well into the competition. If you can get yourself well into the quarterfinals, semifinals, it's there to be won. It's not always the best team that can win a cup competition, it's how you play on the day. We have the experience of playing in finals and semi finals of World Cups and European campaigns, that's the experience Gareth has and some of the players that will have. Players from those previous times will learn from that and bring experience. We're capable, if we get into the latter stages, who knows what will happen.

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